Mexico Detains FBI’s Most-Wanted Drug Lord Caro Quintero

An infamous Mexican drug lord was arrested Friday in a deadly operation eight years after escaping prison.

Rafael Caro Quintero was hiding in the bushes in the San Simón town, Choix municipality, in the northwestern state of Sinaloa. However, he was found by a navy dog, the Mexican Navy revealed in a statement.

The operation to catch him turned tragic, leaving 14 Marines dead in a helicopter crash.

The Mexican Navy Balck Hawk helicopter crashed in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, after the operation to capture the drug lord, also leaving a marine sustaining severe injuries in the hospital. The cause of the incident is unknown, but an investigation has been launched.

The 69-year-old was known as the “narco of drug traffickers” and was on the FBI’s 10 most wanted list. He is thought to be the founder of the Guadalajara cartel and faces charges for trafficking drugs, including methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, and marijuana.

Caro Quintero is also wanted by the US security forces for ordering the murder of a US anti-drug officer. In 1985, he allegedly organized the kidnapping and conspired to assassinate Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent Enrique Camarena Salazar.

According to the DEA, Camarena Salazar was abducted, tortured, and killed in retribution for a Mexican government’s raid on Caro Quintero’s 2,500-acre marijuana field in 1984. The show “Narcos: Mexico” brought the events to Netflix.

The man spent 28 years in a Mexican prison after being sentenced to a 40-year term for the anti-drug agent’s murder. However, he was released on a technicality by a judge in Jalisco, Mexico, in 2013.

Shortly after, following the US authorities’ announcement that they would pay up to $5 million for information leading to his arrest or conviction, the Mexican Supreme Court overturned the decision that freed him.

There was no word on Caro Quinter’s whereabouts since then. But the FBI said he returned to drug trafficking with the Sinaloa cartel as a senior leader.

In 2018, the US government announced that it would pay a $20 million reward for information leading to the drug lord’s capture. DEA agents based in Mexico have worked with Mexican authorities to arrest him.

“For more than 30 years, the men and women of DEA have worked tirelessly to bring Caro Quintero to justice. Today’s arrest is the result of years of your blood, sweat, and tears. Without your work, Caro Quintero would not face justice,” DEA administrator Anne Milgram said.

US Attorney General Merrick Garland stated that the US would seek immediate extradition of him.